In June of 2017, LaVar Ball promised the world that his three sons, Lonzo, LaMelo, and LiAngelo would all play for the Lakers at the same time. Ball even went so far as to say, “[if] we get three of the Ball boys on the Lakers together, we gonna go championship, championship, championship, championship, championship.”
The likelihood of any of this happening is extremely slim. Not only is it unrealistic for them to bring Los Angeles all that hardware, but when was the last time three brothers played alongside each other on the same pro sports team?
Now, imagine the likelihood of having not one, not two, but three sets of brothers playing together, as members of the same team.
This seems even more improbable than Ball’s prediction, but this season, the Vanderbilt Commodores football team has just that: Dare and Dayo Odeyingbo, Emmanuel and Josh Smith, and Jalen and Jared Pinkney.
Transitioning to being teammates
It takes time getting used to playing alongside your brother. Tight end Jared Pinkney may have adapted to it in high school, but his brother, defensive end Jalen, has just begun his freshman year for the Commodores, and things are a little different from their pre-collegiate days.
“When we were kids [Jalen] was always the shorter one, a little bit chubbier,” Jared said. “No one ever really thought he’d be the athletic freak and monster he is today.”
While the Pinkneys acclimate once more, the Odeyingbo brothers are doing so for the first time. Dayo is in the midst of his freshman year with the Commodores, while his brother Dare is now a junior. These two are not like the Pinkneys; playing together is a foreign concept to them. Dare attended Cistercian Prep in Irving, Texas and Dayo attended Carrollton Ranchview. In the few weeks they’ve played together, Dare has seen noticeable improvement from Dayo in his transition from high school to college ball. Perhaps the transition is toughest on their mother, Betty.
“My mom is always calling me to ask about [Dayo] and not me,” Dare said. “I now have to worry more about him after not having to do so for two years, and I’m responsible for telling her where he is literally all the time. I always try and tell her that he’s an adult so he can worry about himself now.”
If the Odeyingbos ever need motivation, they could simply look to Josh and Emmanuel Smith. The Smith brothers have reaped the benefits of playing together in middle school, high school and now in college. They may be tough on each other, but Emmanuel understands that it’s out of love.
“When I mess up, I know there’s someone who can really get into me about what I did,” he said. “It might be tough, but I know it’s for the best.”
Friday Night Lights
Watching brothers play together can be an absolute spectacle for the fans, especially when they get to line up on the same side of the ball. During their tenure at Oakland High School, Emmanuel Smith often lined up at quarterback, with his brother Josh at tight end. Emmanuel reminisced on how they were always on the same page.
“There was a game my senior year when our coach called a run play in crunch time,” Emmanuel said. “Josh was at tight end and I was at quarterback, so of course I audibled. I ended up checking it to him on a corner route. We scored, even though our coach got so mad at us for running our own play. But we created that play ourselves, on the fly, in the middle of the game.”
The Odeyingbos also took advantage of playing multiple positions in high school. Dare said he played defensive end and running back, while Dayo played defensive end, tight end, tackle, outside linebacker and receiver.
Sure, maybe Dayo seemed more versatile, as he even lettered as a hurdler and a shot put thrower on the track and field team. But Dare was being quite modest: he started at running back in all four years of high school and didn’t pick up his current position of defensive end until his junior year.
Throughout his time in high school, Dare racked up over 5,000 rushing yards and over 70 touchdowns. That is, of course, in addition to lettering in both basketball and track and field, all while being a National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist.
Brothers, teammates, friends
Dare knows what it’s like to be the older sibling. He characterized Dayo as most older siblings would.
“[Dayo] likes to be the center of attention, but he’s a pretty funny guy and usually pretty personable,” he said. “But he gets a little annoying sometimes.”
Meanwhile, Dayo did what most younger brothers would. In fact, he couldn’t say anything bad about his older brother.
“[Dare] is a friendly guy,” Dayo said. “Everybody likes him. He’s always nice and he’s pretty responsible too.”
Jared and Jalen Pinkney were on the same page when asked to talk about their personalities off the field. They looked at each other, and uttered the exact same one-word description.
“Silly,” they said as they both laughed.
That one word can say a lot about the Pinkneys, one thing being that they spend too much time with the Smiths. Given one word to describe his brother, Josh knew exactly how to push Emmanuel’s buttons.
“Ugly,” Josh said.
Throughout their tenures at Vanderbilt, these brothers have turned Nashville, and the Commodore football team, into the new city of brotherly love with their compatibility, competitive nature, and camaraderie.